Swan Lake has been a favourite tale of mine ever since I first became obsessed with the ballet at the age of seven. As a result, Feathered is a story that is very close to my heart, to the point where I'd almost consider it an extension of myself.
So before you delve into Marion's story of magic, deception, and webbed feet, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you, in my own words, the original story that is Swan Lake . . .
Once upon a time in medieval Germany, a young Prince Siegfried celebrates his 21st birthday. In the royal courtyard, festivities are held. Waltzes are danced, gifts are bestowed, and princesses present themselves before the prince. Amid the revelries, the Queen Mother enters bearing important news: Prince Siegfried is to choose a bride at the royal ball the following night. Siegfried, displeased by this announcement, goes off to clear his head. With a crossbow given to him earlier as a present, he takes a hunting party off into the woods.
In the woods, Siegfried and his men come across a flock of swans. One in particular catches
Siegfried’s attention. Leaving the rest of his party, he follows this swan to the lake and watches in wonderment as the bird before him transforms into a beautiful princess.
Odette, though shy at first, tells Siegfried her story. She is the Swan Queen, and she and her companions were cursed by the evil Baron von Rothbart to live as swans during the day; the Swan Lake was formed by the tears they wept. Only a declaration of true love can break their curse and return Odette to her true form. Bewitched by the princess, Siegfried makes to proclaim his love for Odette, but is interrupted by Rothbart, who comes to take the swans away, leading them across the lake and leaving the prince behind.
The following evening, the royal ball is held at the palace, at which Siegfried is expected to select a wife. Though presented with many eligible princesses, his mind remains with Odette, and he cannot bring himself to choose any of them.
Just at that moment, a fanfare is heard, and in enters Rothbart in disguise with his daughter, Odile. The spitting image of Odette, Odile immediately catches the prince’s attention. The two of them dance together, and Siegfried confesses his love for the magician’s daughter, thus condemning Odette to an eternity as a swan. The Queen Mother, pleased to see her son has finally chosen a bride, is quick to announce their betrothal.
Suddenly, a frantic Odette appears at the window. Siegfried, realising his mistake, flees the palace and joins Odette by the lake. He apologises, but it is too late. The curse can never be broken. Rothbart appears from the shadows, proclaiming that Siegfried must marry Odile or he and Odette will both die. A fight ensues.
Odette realises that there is only one way now for the curse to be broken—through her death. In an emotional finale, Siegfried and Odette both jump into the lake where they can live together in the afterlife. With Odette’s death, the curse is broken and the other swan maidens return to their human forms. Rothbart has been defeated.